THE number of motorists using cars in Worcester has fallen with more people cycling and walking in and around the city, according to new figures.

Local transport chiefs have now hailed the five-year-long Government-backed scheme to tackle congestion in Worcester a success.

According to the results of the sustainable travel towns project, which was piloted in Worcester as well as in Darlington and Peterborough, car trips have been reduced by up to nine per cent, while walking and cycling trips have increased by up to 13 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

We reported how almost £2.75 million was given to Worcestershire County Council in 2004 for its Choose How You Move project, encouraging people to use greener forms of transport.

Councillor Derek Prodger, Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member for transport and safe environment, said: “The results of the sustainable travel towns project are extremely positive and the scheme backed up the county council’s long-running commitment to providing reliable and easily accessible public transport as well as opportunities for walking and cycling provision throughout the county, including Worcester. The project was about encouraging people to change the way they move, and in Worcester this was achieved through travel awareness campaigns and active promotion of walking and cycling options throughout the city.”

Coun Prodger said sustainable travel is still at the forefront of his transport team’s thinking at County Hall and pointed to the installation of the new £2 million foot and cycle bridge over the river Severn linking Diglis and Lower Wick. Work on that is due to finish in July.

The £46 million first phase of the Worcester Transport Strategy, which is being consulted on, also includes plans to improve walking and cycling infrastructure in the city, subject to receipt of funding. Coun Prodger said: “We are confident Worcester is and will continue to be a walking and cycling-friendly place to live and work.”

Plans to put walking and cycling at the heart of local transport and public health strategies over the next decade have been announced by the Government. And £12.5 million is being invested nationally for cycle training for half a million additional schoolchildren by 2012.